CMU student pushes for campus polling location at city commission meeting
An on-campus voting location could be a future reality for Central Michigan University students and staff.
Rockford junior Brynn McDonnell, the Voices for Planned Parenthood Student Government Association representative, spoke to city commissioners during the public comment portion of Monday's city commission meeting.
McDonnell urged Mount Pleasant to consider making the Wesley Foundation Church, 1400 S. Washington St., a polling location.
She is among several SGA members who have worked toward establishing an on-campus polling location, potentially moving a polling location from Voweles Elementary School, 1560 S. Watson St., to Wesley.
"They've been very interested in working with us on that," McDonnell said of Wesley.
She cited a campus-wide survey conducted by SGA that found only 8 percent of students know where their polling location currently is, while 80 percent said they would be likely to use an on-campus location, should they be eligible.
"Seeing as CMU students account for about 40 percent of Mount Pleasant's population, the Student Government Association and the Residence Hall Assembly both voted in favor of an on-campus polling location that would be utilized by students and, obviously, faculty if they live in that area," she said.
McDonnell read testimony from SGA President Marie Reimers while speaking to commissioners.
"Students have a right to easy access to voting," Reimers said in the statement. "(CMU students) have a right to be heard. CMU students contribute through economic, academic and service means, and we have a right to easy access to political contribution."
McDonnell told the commission about a conversation she had with one of her professors about the importance of moving the polling place.
"Even if we can have just one student have that access to vote, that's one student who can have that (voting) right," she said. "We're looking to broaden this access to rights without causing undue burden to the citizens already."
Regarding potential parking issues, McDonnell said she contacted CMU, which would look into utilizing special events parking protocol if the polling place was relocated to the church.
She said Wesley is Voting Rights Act-compliant, handicap accessible and is classified as a 501(c)(3) organization, meaning it cannot support political candidates or campaigns and is limited in its lobbying ability.
McDonnell called Wesley an ideal location, but should it be denied by the city, she said she spoke with university officials about other potential locations.
"I'm also speaking, if Wesley is not the ideal location, with people in the university who are very excited to invite the community in to exercise their democratic rights," she said.
Mayor Sharon Tilmann suggested McDonnell have herself or someone else involved in the campus polling location campaign to speak with the CMU/City of Mount Pleasant Liaison Committee at its next meeting.